HOW TO STAND STRONG AND DELIVER A POWERFUL MESSAGE

What will you do with any given opportunity for your business? Obviously you will grab it with both hands and go for it. So what if that opportunity is to take to The Stage and Speak Publicly? Do you have what it takes to get up in front of a crowd and talk out loud?

THE INVITATION

Attending networking events has become a regular activity for any entrepreneur. It’s the perfect platform to meet likeminded people which share the same passion as oneself for business. Needless to say that when the invite came via the first email opened on a Monday morning to speak at an event, it was a no-brainer to reply with an affirmative, Yes! 

“Don’t you find that kind of thing very daunting?” was the response from some close friends. To be honest, perhaps because of a mindset that is slightly different from the norm, it is not a scary thing at all. Actually, their is a huge feeling of satisfaction to share publicly one’s knowledge and the approach to one of the loves of my life: that of being an entrepreneur. 

When I came across a superb article in Forbes under Leadership, Want To Be A Better Public Speaker? Do What The Pros Do written by Susan Tardanico, the immediate need arouse to share my public speaking ethics. She most definitely speaks my kind of language. To get her point of view on Public Speaking follow the reference link at the end of this article. Her process is very similar to mine. So on that note, let’s get to work on the nitty-gritty of a creating a striking presentation. 

THE PREP STRUCTURE 

Establish first off from the organiser what is required, where and when you should be ready for action. Once the practicalities are out of the way the time has come to put on that thinking-cap and get some thoughts together. 

  • Purpose

    - An effective way to start is to have the end of your talk in mind. Basically, the message you want to get across.

Deciding on the topic/s can be tricky depending on if it’s been covered before or if there are so many aspects to cover that there will not be enough time.  

  • Simplicity

    - Don’t complicate your message.

Pinning down some ideas take a bit of time, but in the end the motto keep it short and sweet prevails and then the framework for the talk will be done. All that is needed now is to put some meat on those bones and you’re almost there. 

Next up is to create some captivating imagery to accomplish your talk and most of the hard work is in hand.

  • Visuals

    - Be very aware of the perils of your Keynote/Powerpoint show-and-tells. Keep the amount of slides to a minimum - and, very importantly, Do Not Repeat out loud what is written on your slides. Slides are there to cement your speech not the other way round.

THE REHEARSALS

There is the notion that you should follow the rule rehearse rehearse rehearse and that is good. Even the phrase practise makes perfect, come to mind. However, there is also the notion that to over rehearse can kill some very important aspects of public speaking: the authenticity and energy. Saying that, preparation is vital. 

  • Video yourself

    - Recording yourself whilst rehearsing is an excellent way to watch yourself perform. You can then get a great idea of how you will come across to your audience.

  • Mixture

    - Be careful not to be a boring speaker. Avoid sameness at all costs. The last thing you want is for your listeners to get bored and tune out / disengage - or even worse, get up and leave the room.

Of course it is great to talk to an audience without any notes in hand, but rather have some pointers with you (or use your slides as reminders) to refer to than ramble on and deliver a bunch of words without any enthusiasm. If there are a few days at hand before going live it’s good to have a run-through once a day. Obviously if time is not on your side, more effort is needed as often as possible. 

If you’re familiar with the venue where you will speak at, then even better. If not, make sure to arrive some time earlier than you should to have a good look around the room/auditorium to get the feel of it’s layout and size. Walk about on the stage too so you get use to the acoustics and vision from the stage.

Prior to taking to the stage it is essential to do a complete run-through. Specially to check and double check the available technology. Nothing is more disappointing than a failing monitor or presentation slides jumping all over the screen and even the hand remote behaving badly. It is common for these hiccups, and depending on the formality of the event, an audience will accept and smile as they have seen it all before. From a speaker’s point of view though, it can easily rattle your rhythm and throw you off guard. Best to make 110% sure gremlins are removed from all devices so you can get on with the most important part which is delivering information well.

Words of Wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson

THE CURTAIN GOES UP

Before you know it the moment will arrived and you will be introduced to your audience. Some adrenalin usually kicks in and the flutter of butterflies in your stomach is a good omen. After all, you are about to show people what you know and what you’re made of. This is here where those rehearsals will come in very handy. You will portrait confidence and come across knowledgeable giving your audience a treat. Thus having your ducks in a row will only be a great part of your talk. 

Once you start to deliver your presentation, it is good practice to keep the following in mind: 

  • Stories

    - Tell a personal story or two. Maybe as an icebreaker before you delve into your main presentation.

  • Eye Contact

    - Connect with your audience from the start. You want them in the palm of your hand for the entire duration you’re on stage.

  • Body language

    - Your stance, the shifting your weight, your hand movements, where you head turns… Your Body Language and Body Message are very important. Your audience will definitely pick up on any energy you are giving off.

  • Passionate

    - Let your passion for the topic, for speaking publicly, for having an audience, for just being there, be on show all the time. Keep up the energy levels and stay focussed throughout.

Time usually flies by and in public speaking this can go by even faster. Sooner than you think you will receive a signal from the organiser at the back of the room that it’s time to wrap it up. Fingers crossed at this moment you have covered your main topics and are ready for the Q&A (question and answer session) that usually follows.

THE AFTERMATH

Done and dusted. Fingers crossed fo an applause and perhaps even a shout out/whistle here and there not to mention a possible standing ovation! Possibly some meet and greets with audience members to follow and finally a well deserved coffee (or something stronger if you prefer) to sooth your dry throat. Pat yourself on the back. Well done to you!

It’s worth noting that soon after you’ve walked off the stage, a feeling of what  now can sink your energy to a shockingly low level. This is normal. The mind and body have just gone through a gruelling 40+ minutes of intense excitement and nerves. As the saying goes… what goes up must come down. It will pass in due course. Nothing to worry about, but worth knowing you’re not about to collapse or have an attack of some sorts. 

CONCLUSION

Finally, what is the aim in all of this? Yes, it all sounds very easy, you may say. Maybe you can’t comprehend how someone can take a stance and talk out loud with lots of people watching and listening. “I’ll never be able to do that” is often a common reply. Honestly, you CAN do it. It may take time and even some media training, but it is possible.

The one thing that cannot be stressed enough is NOT TO let the moment and opportunity go by because you feel it is not your kind of thing. At the end of the day it is your Brand up there and it is part and parcel of building and growing your visibility. Please note that not all members of the audience will necessarily be appreciative of what you said since there will always be those that so easily show their dislike. Don’t let it throw you off track. Stand Tall And Deliver. And most of all grow within yourself

To finish off, here is the lesson of the day:  You up there on stage is intended for the people in your audience to remember Your Brand once You’ve Left The Room. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or if you felt some affinity towards this topic.

You can reach me here, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You very much for reading. 


Reference:

Article by Susan Tardanico on the Forbes website:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/susantardanico/2012/05/29/want-to-be-a-better-public-speaker-do-what-the-pros-do/#3108529a1e17

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR KNOWLEDGE INTO UNSURPASSED SUCCESS

How do you feel about gaining new information? Is it an exciting prospect? Or a daunting one, as the ability to extend your knowledge of a subject or a skill can be just that. However, if you approach the exercise with the right mindset you can walk away feeling very satisfied. 

Personally, the words of Vincent van Gogh sums it up beautifully:

Learning, or educating myself, has always given me a great sense of achievement, satisfaction and ultimately, confidence.  

THE URGE TO KNOW

When the decision was taken to startup on my own, there were quite a few elements within business that I knew, as far as I was concerned, too little about. Using this information gap as an example, there were mainly two ways to go about obtaining the info that was missing. 

One way was to sign up to a course or three and let others be my instructors. There is nothing wrong with obtaining knowledge down this avenue. To be honest, there are certain aspects of business solutions that can only be accomplished this way. 

On the other hand, to seek the information on one’s own accord somehow sounded so much more fulfilling, in my humble opinion. Therefore, yours truly, tackled the proverbial bull by the horns and upscaled the current understanding of certain areas I lacked knowledge in, by myself. 

THE LEARNING CURVE

With the worldwide web at our finger tips nowadays it is much easier than years ago to get hold of answers to all our questions. There are huge amounts of DIY Learning Videos for instance on platforms like YouTube. Not to mention special websites like SkillShare to train yourself how it should be done. It takes some research, but persevere and I can promise you will find what you are looking for

What could, or most likely will happen, is that you will find parts here, there and everywhere. The fun part (to put it mildly) is to then put it together like a puzzle. First, one finds the pieces with a straight edge and/or the corner pieces and before you know it the border (or outline, so to speak) is all in place. To follow is to fill in the middle section and voila!, your picture is complete. All pieces slotted in and you’re sitting back looking at a complete visual. This process translates to you having conquered the assignment of learning how to perform a certain task within your business and/or life. It’s moments like these that a firm pat on the back is in order (even if it’s done, sort of, by yourself)! 

THE IMPLEMENTATION

Now comes the tricky part. This is honestly the section that is as important if not even more so than the educating process itself. 

Once the know-how is firmly in your head, it is time to put your new found extended knowledge into action. Best bit of advice I can give you at this stage is to get going immediately since the information is still very fresh. So:

  • Practice

  • Practice it again

  • Practice it some more

  • Practice until it becomes second nature

Repetition is known to cement actions within us. After all, the exact meaning of repetition is ‘the action of repeating something that has already been said or written’. Once you leave the new found facts and skills at the door, the inevitable is sure to happen - when you return to put it all to work, most will be a haze and you will need to start again to remember and refresh your mind. This can, obviously, end up as wasting some valuable time.

THE CONCLUSION

Please understand that as I mentioned earlier, certain expert knowledge can only be accomplished via the help of specialised individuals that spend many years of their lives learning so they are able to teach others the required information and processes. What I am trying to say is that one shouldn’t always assume that gathering all knowledge is only available if someone/persons directly teach you.

To study or learn on your own takes a lot of effort and determination, not to mention focus. You need to be proactive and resilient at all times. As tough as this may sound, the outcome will easily overshadow the angst of doing it yourself.

For me self-education works and it works well. Currently there a few new ventures on the cards and instead of signing up to expensive courses on how to achieve this, I am (enjoying!) taking matters in my own hands. Yes, I do attend webinars, seminars and join many discussions to get some guidance, but at the end of the day it’s up to me.

Some will call it the hard way and won’t understand why the narrow, steep road is more attractive. Each to their own I say. It is not a matter of making it unnecessarily difficult for oneself, it is much more about achieving something where there was originally very little knowledge of in one’s head. 

As a strong believer in one can do whatever you put your mind to, it’s obvious this is the preferred route for me. That moment you reach the end of the rainbow (as in the final section of a project) and find your pot of gold, is really priceless. To sit back and look at the finished assignment you did with a complete new set of tools you taught yourself is beyond satisfying. Once you experienced that feeling, I bet you will want it again and again. Believe me the feeling is truly that wonderful. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or if you felt some affinity towards this topic.

You can reach me here, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER

… and You can put any mountain behind You. 

Sounds fairly simple, right? However, when it comes to getting the ball rolling for the year ahead, the desire may come easily until you realise the fact of the matter is, it isn’t always that easy at all.

Looking (at least) 12 months ahead at your work and life can and is quite scary. Even daunting for most people. So much so that the Goal Setting exercise is limited to only thinking about a few things that could be done in the months to come. 

The secret to fulfilling those ideas is not rocket science. The truth is that all one has to do is put write down those thoughts on paper or type it into a document. According to the Dominican University of California, close to 75% of people writing down/typing Goals had a much higher success rate of achieving them - in contrast to those thinking and/or keeping their goals only tucked up in your heads.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Where are You & Your business heading? Here is some guidance from Bob Proctor: “A proper goal provides the necessary incentive to grow in awareness - and every aspect of your life is a reflection of your level of awareness”.

What strikes me within these wise words are: Goal, Grow and Awareness. 3 very powerful points to take note of to make progress.

Personally, a lot has been picked up from working in a corporate environment for many years. One that stands out like the proverbial sore thumb is Goal Setting. It was great to be introduced to it years ago. Something that now comes natural and are done religiously at the start of every new year. In January thoughts are arranged into at least 3 Development sections: Entrepreneurship, Business and Personal. Setting out a strategy for each part of life as a professional working individual is order of every new year. 

THE SET UP EXERCISE 

To sit down and calmly spend time making decisions for the next 12 months is one of the most satisfying exercises one can do. It puts the future into perspective and creates a track that encourage the mindset to move systematically forward. 

A golden rule to follow is that of creating SMART Goals. Setting massive, almost out-of-bound Goals are, from a personal point of view, not that productive. It is good to be ambitious, however being realistic is a much better route to follow. 

Over-the-top Goals can easily lead to disappointment and discouragement. One can feel like a failure and that easily leads to negativity in thought and mind - something that should be avoided at all costs since being positive is a much easier way to live life and being successful. So, be SMART about your Goals. 

No need to agree on a huge list of goals either. The list can rather be short and sweet than long, tedious and impossible. Aim for around 3 to 5 per section.

THE CREATING PROCESS

Here we are talking literal as in creating the document which will lay out each Goal that will encourage you over the next 12 months to move forward and make progress - in both business and personal growth. 

Keep it plain and simple. A 3-pager landscape-layout with 4 columns each should do the trick. Give each page a heading that clearly describes what your plans are. Then head up each column too. The following column headers makes a lot of sense: Goal, Actions, Timescale and Result. 

Take each page at a time. Write a Goal and follow on to the 2nd column and then the 3rd. The 4th will be visited throughout the year and completed by the end of your 12 month cycle. Do this for each page you created and very soon you will look at a great lot of words that stare you in the face. It is so much easier to visualise what needs to be done and by when once you see it with your own eyes. People do tend to say why should I create a document? It’s all in my head in any case - trust me, seeing it in black on white cement it in your head and give your mindset a real good boost. 

To finish off this very important document it is imperative to Brand it. Add your logo. Use your company colours. Definitely use your company font. Make it your own. It is YOUR Goals for YOUR Company. Once again, each time you visit this document it will give you a sense of ownership. After all, it belongs to you! 

THE RE-VISIT   

There are people who (unfortunately) think that once they created their Goals it can stay in a folder somewhere on their computer. Their attitude of I am going to look at it only in 12 months from now is defeating the purpose. A regular visit to this document will not only refresh your memory it will also make it clear where you are with those goals as the year go by.

A healthy suggestion is to add at least 4 reminder dates to your calendar. Every 3 months is good timing. This will give you enough time to get on with business in general and easily let you cast your mind back to what you have achieved and where you are in making progress. Here is where column 4 gets the action. Note down the date your visit takes place and next to it whether you have already accomplished, slightly progressed or still have to work on the particular Goal. 

Quarterly visits will also help a lot at the end of your 12 month cycle to see the full picture with no need to open your diary searching for accomplishments or wreck your mind when you actually demolished a goal. 

THE FINAL FRONTIER 

Time flies by so quickly and before you know it a year would’ve past. The moment of truth will be facing you. The last Goal visit of the year will be upon you and you will need to be honest about what you wrote months ago. 

The possibility exists that certain sections of your Goal Setting document will still not be completed. Don’t stress about this. Circumstances change all the time. There could be a very good reason (lets hope so) for a Goal to be still outstanding. If it is still relevant to your development don’t feel ashamed to add it to the next bunch for the year to come. 

CONCLUSION

Every year your Goals’ intensity will increase. Your aim will be higher than before. You will most likely put a bigger demand on yourself and your business. Don’t let it deter you. As mentioned before, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious. Nothing prohibits you from setting the bar a notch higher than last year (actually, it is a very healthy approach). The important thing is to continue to set Goals. Continue to visit them regularly and be strict about them. At the end of the day it’s up to you, but having these milestones set out loud and clear will help you with you strategy towards success.

To be brutally honest with you, Now Is The Time to get going and set out milestones for the next months ahead. Good luck with your Goals! It will be worth it every time - I promise you that! 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS IN BEING AN OCEANHOLIC?

For many of us summer is making way for another season. Have you dipped your toes into the big, blue Water World this year?  In other words, did you have the pleasure of soaking up the sun’s rays at the seaside?

The ocean holds a fascination for me. From an early age growing up in South African I was fortunate to spend many days enjoying life on a beach. As a youngster my hometown wasn’t by the ocean. So, come summer holidays, my parents would pack everything, but the kitchen sink, and we would set off for our annual 6-week caravan camping holiday. 

The be blunt, it was honestly The Best Times Ever.

PASSION FOR THE OCEAN 

I am honestly not exaggerating when I claim that summer breaks were out of this world. The sight and smell of the sea has always been a great love of mine. That feeling of direct contact with sand beneath your feet and the waves against your body, always evokes a feeling of total happiness.

One thing that has always been incredible about the ocean was the vastness that goes most of the time on and on into (almost) infinity. Standing in front of such a huge, open space immediately calls for calmness. Yes, I am aware that she can be dangerous, angry and brutal many a times. However, there are so many times that she is calm, cool and collected. Whatever her mood for the time of day, the energy I absorb is beyond incredible. Is it really somehow abnormal to feel this way?

METHOD IN MADNESS

For many years visiting and spending time at the seaside meant only one reason and that was getting away from school or work and to be on holiday. Nothing in particular wrong with that, but did I ever think more of it? No, not really. 

It wasn’t until I delved deeper into the possibilities that the ocean can provide more than just a superb holiday destination that I realised what really happened to the mind, body and soul during every trip. 

These new-found facts were confirmed when I found a couple of articles that support my findings. Anne Gherini wrote an article in Inc. about the benefits of the beach for our brains. Complimenting Anne’s post I stumbled across another article upon further research in Exploring Your Mind which confirms similar facts. 

All in all, that big, vast open space of water can do wonders for us humans. All we need to do is take on board her free offer of help and reap the benefits. 

NOW IT MAKE SENSE  

After all the years of basking in the hot sun (with protection lotion though!) and inhaling some fresh air, the penny dropped for me. Let’s take a look at the science behind the euphoria of spending time on the beach. 

Waves crushing against rocks or gently washing forwards and back over sandy shores, have an immense effect on our being. This does not only have an impact on our physical bodies, it goes way beyond that. Our mental state is affected more than we can ever imagine. 

To have a balanced existence we have to work at creating it within ourselves first. It is here where the ocean can play a tremendous part to bring a 50/50 state of mind and body. As our physical outer being is enjoying the warmth and soaking up some much-needed vitamin D, our mind is soothed by calming noises without us even taking much notice of it. 

When we then add witnessing the visual of a huge blue space in front of us plus tasting the sea air we are actually taking in the full package on offer by mother nature. Expressing ‘this is exactly what the doctor ordered’ to those around you, we may think we’re being a bit fictitious, although we are nailing the thought 100%. 

DIG YOUR HEELS IN DEEP 

Our time spending on the beach is not only about the sound and smell of the ocean. There are much more to chilling out on a lounger than you can imagine. 

Particles within the sea air and the sand get absorbed into our human system. It may sound very profound, however don’t dismiss the facts in an instance. 

These non-visible bits (aka ions/atoms) are known to elevate our mood tremendously. It is been proved that inhaling sea air and walking barefoot/grounding on the sand can have a very positive effect on your emotions. The possibility exist that you can go from feeling down in the dumps to cheerful and happy purely by spending time on the beach.  

CONCLUSION

When I discovered all these amazing facts about the ocean and it’s remedies it not only caused much happiness within, it also made me understand why I enjoy visiting the sea so much. There I thought it was only to have a break from my usual regime, to experience different cultures, enjoy unusual foods, drink exotic wines, etc... It also makes total sense to me now why one is so much more creative and relaxed on a beach-break. Recalling why I actually get so much out of being by the seaside, it urges me even more to pack a bag and set off to the sandy shores of the Mediterranean asap. 

Waking up refreshed is vital to me. My mindset is a very important part of my life. I constantly work at giving it attention to stay positive and focussed. Therefore, falling asleep to the calming sounds of waves not only set me up for an awesome sleep, it also does wonders for the day ahead when I rouse. 

Not surprising then that my fall-asleep alarm at night is set to Ocean Waves. Even though the duration is set for 20 minutes, most of the time I’m off to slumberland way before it ends. In general, I have great sleeps and I am convinced the ocean sounds plays a part in that. It’s common knowledge that sleep is needed for the body and mind to recuperate after our hectic schedules every day. 

It will be great if you can take a leaf out of my book and be a bit more aware of the effects your visits to the seaside have on you. I urge you to head over to the beach whenever you can. Yes, I am aware your first instinct is that you are on a deserving break. That is totally acceptable and of course, correct. But take a second and add to that the good input from mother nature, and savour that moment. I bet you will then enjoy your break even more. And that, ladies and gentlemen, to be honest, will make my day (or beach break!).

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading.

HAVING A PLAN IS EVERYTHING

How many topics are there on your to-do list for 2018? Far too many? ‘Of course!’, I hear you say. It is common knowledge that all of us struggle with tasks at some point within our busy schedules.

Having a list of tasks as long as your arm means that we easily feel overwhelmed, stressed and even depressed about getting things done. Again, it is common knowledge.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

Since it is the beginning of a new year, I reckon we all have some plans for the next 12 months. However, the question is, how will those plans turn out? It will be a miracle if some, leave alone all, of our good intentions actually manifest into reality, right?

There is a solution at hand. You can create your own miracle. Not wanting to sound patronising, it’s an easy one. What you need is a Structure. Also known as a Plan - a Plan of Action. 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR PLAN

I came across a blog entry by one of the world’s best leaders, Tony Robbins. He has put together a post outlining the top actions to follow for creating, what I call, your winning plan. How Can I Create A Compelling Future is a short and very powerful article about how you can achieve what you want.

Before you think ‘oh, here we go again with goals’ do yourself a favour and click on the link to that post. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. It truly is short, sharp and to the point. In other words, easy-peasy!

I am in absolute agreement with Tony. The secret also for me lies within writing down what you want to achieve. Start by asking yourself:

  • What Do You Want?

  • Why Do You Want It?

Once you see your aims in black on white, it will be much easier to remember and accomplish them. Many people think they will keep it in their minds only to find a few days down the line, they can’t remember some, if any, of it. 

WHERE TO BEGIN

Either grab a pen and paper or let your fingers do the walking on a keyboard. The best way to start is with the word SMART. Yes, you have to be smart about it all, but that is not exactly what I mean in this case. SMART is short for a 5-set Law Of Principles.

Each letter should be used as the starting point of one principal. In short it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timeframe. Tackle your aims and apply these 5 principals to each and every one of them.

Once done, you will have a clear vision of where you are heading. It will also help you to maintain a strong flow once you start to take action with what you want.

Next up is a brilliant suggestion by Tony. You may find that you have quite a few things in mind so your list could be a bit lengthy. Now is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. Follow Tony’s 3 Steps and you will end up with a concise and very definite version of what you’re aiming for. 

CONCLUSION

When done, pat yourself on the back since You Have Done It. Yes, you have put shoulder to the wheel and created a set of realistic desires for the next year. Massive Kudos from me to you! Congratulations.

Even though you have not started the race and is by no means close to the finishing line, you are in your starting blocks. You are Ready to kick off in a major way. You can see the track all lined out in front of you with your very own eyes.  Basically, You Are Set.

Now is the time to shoot out of your starting blocks and start running like hell. So, let’s Go. It’s all action from here on.

I personally wish you the best for the road ahead. Even if you slow down somewhere along your journey, the main point to remember is to Keep Going.

You. Can. Do. It.

Feel free to share / comment / send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

SO HERE IT IS – DECEMBER AGAIN

Another Festive Season (for some not all) is upon us which means the End of Another Year. How does that make you feel? Are you happy with the progress you’ve made over the past 12 months? Or are you rather frustrated and disappointed with yourself?

REACHING THE FINISH LINE

When we kick off the race at the beginning of a year, we usually are full of beans and very excited. Our motivation is on high alert and many times we hardly lack any confidence. After all, it is the beginning of something new.

Then time flies by quickly and before we know it, we are staring the finishing line in the face. All of a sudden it is time to Take Stock and Evaluate the 12 months gone by. This situation can cause as much stress as delivering all the food, at the right temperature, to the table for Christmas Lunch.

Like it is in the world of cooking, I believe the proof lies in the eating. Therefore, may I invite you to my 2017-Lunch?

MY 2017 ACHIEVEMENTS

As you may know, I am a great believer in Setting Goals at the start of a new year. Seeing them in black on white is much better than visualising them in one’s mind. Of course, this year has been no exception. Here is a breakdown of my Goals (set within 3 sections) achieved:

  • Entrepreneurship Development
  1. Mentoring Startup Business owners locally proved successful and very satisfying.
  2. Education continued via Online Courses and reading 5+ Inspirational Books.
  3. Landed a Work Opportunity abroad.
  4. Completed my detailed Research successfully for another Business Venture.
  5. Accumulated suppliers via local Business Exhibitions. 

  • Business Development
  1. Social Media sites received a mini Re-brand.
  2. New Updated Logo was implemented.
  3. Branding completed for the new Business Venture.
  4. Social Media activities and engagement increased as set out.
  5. Strategies for Online Reputation was adhered and stuck to.
  • Personal Development
  1. Creativity increased via Design and Photography.
  2. Health and Fitness increased dramatically.
  3. Managing my Thought Process was tough, but I kept it positive 90% of the time.
  4. Building New Relationships took a massive Positive turn.
  5. Even though not all locations on my Travel List were visited, a brand new summer location, El Masnou, was discovered; a repeat weeklong visit to my favourite Balearic Island, Menorca, took place and, of course, Barcelona (a top favourite city) was visited again for a week.
  6. Learning a new foreign language and adding a tattoo to my collection were unfortunately not achieved.

MY 2017 SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT

As mentioned, I set out to connect and engaged more with people via Social Media platforms. This has turned out to have an incredible Impact on both my Business and Personal Development.

Reaching out to other likeminded individuals has not only provided me with stimulating Mentoring Advice, but also cause my Confidence to rise quite a few levels. Conversing with people like Ryan Foland, Clinton Senkow, Cherie Aimée, Dennis Brown, Zach McArthur, Harry Petsanis, John Lim, Winnie Sun, Susie Ippolito, Jeremy Slate to mention a few, is proof that Social Media is a great platform if used appropriately. All it takes is to be social – after all, these sites are exactly what it says on the tin.

MY 2017 GRATITUDE

It is with great Happiness and Thanks that I end this year. I am fortunate to have received many audience responses on my sites and blogposts. At the end of the day the proof really lies within the eating. Many Thanks to all of you for your likes and comments. You have made my year!

MY 2018 OUTLOOK

Ending the year on such a high, has already given me energy to start thinking about next year. My thinking cap is on and quite a few Goals are already being set out to tackle another 12 months.

Nothing beats having a structure in life, work and beyond. Once you have set out what you want to achieve, all that is left is to Focus on your Future.

Here’s to another year, another set of Goals and another bunch of Achievements. And to be honest, I cannot wait to tackle 2018 by the horns and Get Going.

Here’s wishing those that celebrate the end of the year with a Festive Season, a Very Merry Christmas

HOW BEING A CREATURE OF HABITS MAY COST YOU

It’s so easy. Over time you adopted certain ways here and there that you feel comfortable with. It seems it is making life just that bit easier, right? Well, apologies to burst your bubble, but have I got news for you.  

When one of your goals is to become a successful Entrepreneur, please spare me a moment to explain. For starters, don’t feel offended. You are not the only human on earth that has got not such good habits. Trust me, apart from millions of others, I have them too. Or actually, I am daily working hard on chancing them.

Success.com opened my eyes when I read their article on Harmless Habits. They got 10 Successful Business Owners to point out one habit each that can stand between You and Success.

THE WHAT & WHY

So, why do we have habits? As mentioned at the beginning, together with the explanation in the dictionary, it is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. As humans it is easy for us to fall into a rut. Especially if people constantly advice you to have a structure in work and life. You can argue that a habit is part of your structure – you’re doing something in a certain way consistently.

That sounds like it could work, but we fool ourselves. So what should we do? The bit that is not easy to see is that a habitual work ethic works only in the short term. What we should be focussing on is the long term effect - specially when it comes to entrepreneurship. Carving our path to success should be built around longevity. We should not put in all the effort, time and energy for it to be over and done with after a few months from now. Definitely not. We should be in it for the long haul.

THE CHANGE

As I said earlier, to reshape habits is a daily exercise. Adapting to new rituals doesn’t come easily and most of all is not at all easy to stick to. The main part of making changes is the determination to be better at it today than yesterday. Let’s look at those habits that need to be adhere to for the better:

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  • The Yes-Man Scenario

Gaining or Keeping a Client is essential – however, at a cost to your own business it is not going to work in the long run.

Especially at Startup I thought one should never say No. Big mistake.  Make sure to weigh up the pros and cons before making a commitment. Saying No can work in your favour. Clients hire you for a reason: they usually don’t know what they want and are therefore are indecisive on many occasions. 

  • Sticking with The Crowd

Your First Employee/Freelancer has been with you for yonks. He/She is being with you through thick and thin. They have to stay put.

Nope. No Way. Unless they have The Vision you have. If they don’t they will become like a bad smell. Clear the air and find appropriate help.

  • Lunch at The Desk

Time is of essence, of course. Your To-Do list is as long as your arm. Better knuckle down and have a bite whilst you’re typing away like crazy. Emails, messages, social networking, busy, busy, busy.

If you don’t want to do Yourself a favour, please do Your Mind a favour. Give your brain a break. Actually, Give Yourself a Break. Trust me, you’ll have much better focus after having your lunch away from the keyboard and monitor.

  • Too Busy to Workout

Definitely haven’t got a minute to spare or as the saying goes to scratch my backside (to put it politely) leave alone doing exercise. No efficient business owner has got time for that malarkey.

Wrong on both accounts. For the busy Entrepreneur exercise is more about the Mind than the Body. Luckily the body gains a lot by letting the Mind take most of the focus. I can’t stress enough how regular exercise will elevate your energy levels, mindset and wellbeing. You’ll be supercharged and ready to take on any issue.

  • Doing Everything at Once

Many in particular are like: "I can multitask. Check me out".

Yes, we will look at you being: all over the place… making mistakes everywhere… not in much control of any project or team… lacking a lot of information… missing deadlines, etcetera. Concentrate on one task at a time. Complete it in full and then move to the next. Your productivity level will go through the roof.

  • Touching Base

The need to quickly drop your favourite client a "Hi. You OK?" email. It is good practice to stay in touch, right?

Yes, but only when you have a reason. A flimsy email for no rhyme or reason is just clogging your client’s inbox even more than what it is already. At the end of the last project you both left on good speaking terms. Trying the buddy-buddy approach is not only old fashioned it is plain irritating for your client.

  • Flawless Execution

It can’t be send out in its current form. The logo is 0.5 mm to far left. 

And there by fixing the minute error you miss the deadline. Oh dear. Many times only You see that error, if we can call it that. It took me a long time to realise that a tiny mistake in my eyes, are not even visible to others. Save yourself the stress. If you really insist, fix something tiny later when no one is looking. 

  • Take Time Out

Clients, your team, the canteen worker, etc. must always come first. That’s how you operate and living your life. Your needs always are second.

Nothing spells Burn Out like this attitude. You may think it makes you an amazing person. Believe me, when you’re sitting in a corner sobbing because your world has crumbled beneath your feet, You Will Be Sitting Alone. Learn to be positively selfish. Everyone will admire you more for being like that. There is a time and a place for everyone.

  • Reply Now

Ping! Yes, another notification. You’ve Got Mail.

Dropping whatever you’re doing to start typing a reply ferociously is a waste of time and energy. You, the client, everyone is busy. No one expects an immediate reply – unless it’s a matter of life or death which most of the time it isn’t. Rank first and reply in due course.

  • The Daily Schedule

Nothing is much more impressive than a laid out To-Do List with tasks and times. Perhaps even colour coded for necessity. Only to reach the end of the day and 75% of Today’s Tasks are copied and pasted in tomorrow’s list.

One word is order of the day, Prioritize. We all have different methods to complete tasks. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Personally, the mundane tasks have to be eliminated asap. Then the focus and energy can be spent on important issues. Others find it the other way round. Whatever Makes Your Day do it Your Way. 

THE CONCLUSION

Sometimes we’re too stubborn to make changes, leave alone realise we need changes. It took me a long time to discard the 10 commandments above and adapt to a better work regime. The focus should be on the outcome of your actions.

Don’t get me wrong. Having habits can be a very good attribute in one’s life. The secret is to learn and maintain healthy habits. Having a new found attitude to being productive in a positive manner cause such pleasure it honestly is worth it.

Make time and have a good look at how you operate within both Life and Work specially if you feel you’re not achieving as much as you would like to. Working your fingers to the bone, will in the long run, only give you bony-fingers. Not much else.

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or if you felt some affinity towards this topic.

You can reach me here, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You very much for reading.

If interested in having this article as an eBook, you can Download it Free Of Charge here.

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

To quote writer JK Rowling… ‘A Good First Impression can Work Wonders’. 

That says it all. Have you ever wondered why a networking event wasn’t as successful as you anticipated it will be? Perhaps a meeting didn’t work out as well as you wanted it to? These questions and many more related to the outcome can be directly associated with You presenting Yourself to Your audience. 

As a great believer in the importance of looking after numero uno (You!) in one’s life, the article http://bit.ly/Great1stImpression by Rhydian Fairfax echoes my sentiments exactly. If you do not like and love yourself, how is it possible that others will show you such empathy. The 4 techniques Rhydian highlights on how you can better yourself so your audience can experience the real, authentic you are: 

  • Elevator Pitch
  • Speak for Yourself
  • Treat Everyone like the Gatekeeper to Your Destiny
  • Body Language and Attitude

With these in mind let’s take a closer look and find a way to implement them in your life.

YOUR 30 SECONDS

Make time to sit down and write down who you are and what your business is all about. Once you are happy with the content, edit it to around 30 seconds in total. Not much shorter and most certainly not much longer. This important speech should become your verbal business card - in other words the next step after any initial business introduction. Within this short period of time any new person you meet will be able to get a good understanding of you.  Therefore it is very important to be short, sharp and to the point. No mucking about.

YOUR VOICE

Most introductions to other people in life are via someone else. Thanks heavens for that though. Just take note that it’s not up to that person to tell others about you. Take control immediately and let your own words do the talking. Others may think they know you well, but at the end of the day you are the best megaphone for yourself.  At this point your new acquaintance will be able to sense who is the boss - and it is (and should be) you. 

YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND

Don’t ever brush a new person aside for whatever reason. We never know how they and their minds work. It also isn’t fair on that person if you make assumptions and then decide to walk away without any rhyme or reason. For all you know this person could be exactly what your business needs. Give them the benefit of the doubt. What if they are at that point in time where they need someone like you to propel their business to the next level? Just imagine how disappointing it will be if a few weeks later you hear that they hired a competitor of yours (which they also met at the same event you met each other) only because you never ended up having a proper conversation with them - but your competitor did. A few minutes of conversing won’t kill you. In any case, that’s why you’re there, right?

YOUR IMAGE

You are what you wear. We hear that a lot - and it’s very true. The way you look and feel when you meet people for the first time is utterly important. Of course your environment counts so be sure to do a bit of research if you are going to attend a meeting with clients from a genre you’re not au fait with. Looking your best says a lot about yourself. Taking care of yourself will give you confidence and that in turn will make someone remembers you. Stand, walk and talk with authority. After all you are part of your business so the selling of your business includes yourself. You have put in a lot of hard work to get where you are now so Be Proud Of Yourself

CONCLUSION

I am fully aware it is not always as easy as it sounds. Still, to this day, events like networking is not a preferred favourite of mine. Meeting new people can still be daunting. Luckily I am much better at it now than years ago. My elevator pitch is engraved on my mind. I have always taken care of how I look so that (fortunately) comes natural to me. However, when I started out the points above were tough. It was actually very hard work, but I learned that in the end it pays off. 

However daunting it may sound to you right now, remember that It Is Possible to accomplish this. Many, many people have adopted these rules and are very victorious today. All of us have to start somewhere. So go on, take action and Make That First Impression Lasts

As always, get in touch to share your experiences and/or thoughts. Maybe, just maybe, together we can help someone today. On the other hand, simply just ask if help is what you need right now.  

GOODBYE 2016

Can you believe it? 12 months are almost done and dusted. How time flies. There is the saying… time flies when you’re having fun. Can you describe the past year as fun? 

THE ACHIEVEMENT

We are all aware fun comes in all shapes and sizes. Yes, maybe it has been an excellent year within your business so the fun could well be your business’ Christmas party. On the other hand, maybe you’re sitting right now wishing it could’ve been so much better - not being able to convince yourself there were much fun this year. Whichever way we look at it the mere fact that you and your business have lived through the last 12 months should be seen as a great achievement. The level of your survival is of course important, but whatever that level ended up to be should in some way be celebrated. 

THE ASSESSMENT

The important fact is that steps were taken. It is always very beneficial if the steps were moving you forward and ahead of where you were last year this time, but if you moved backwards, one should address the situation in the same positive manner. Getting to this point in a year it is good to asses both sides of your story. There are reasons for you being where you are right now. Look at where you’re standing today and question yourself on how you got here. Through detangling the hows and whys you are able to learn and gain information. Only then the situation will make sense - a lot of sense.

THE OUTCOME

Personally, this year could really have been much better financially. On the other hand, it was a great year filled with education and experience. Even though the money didn’t roll in there is a distinct feeling that one is much richer this time round than last year. Even though on paper it doesn’t look that great, honestly, there is a feeling of being far better off now then last year which is causing a tremendous emotion of achievement. The information gathered over the past few months alone can only be good for the mind, body and soul.  The time has come to draw the curtain on this year and get ready for a brand, new chapter in life and work. 

So there will be celebrations and the joining in of the festivities. The immediate surroundings have been decorated with true Christmas spirit and a feast is being planned for Christmas day. Even a few gifts have been obtained which is about to be wrapped and will be handed over with a smile.  

Goals that were set up 11 months and 17 days ago has been revisited and one can confirm that 99% have been reached. That 99% refers to the very important ones. The odd goal not completely achieved is not the end of the world. Plans are already in place for next year. So all that is left to say is…

THE CONCLUSION 

Thanks for the support received this year. Thank You for reading. Thank You for commenting and ‘liking’ on social sites. Thank You for the reassurance that the chosen path is the right choice made. One feels Blessed and Fortunate. And very Happy and Excited.